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Youth, not just gender, will shape our tech future

Youth, not just gender, will shape our tech future

by JUDY SCHRIENER, for BuiltWorlds

Gender isn’t the only factor when it comes to the evolution of tech leadership. When I reached out to several industry experts for their thoughts on the gender issue, they also brought up age.  

When it comes to Smart Cities, other countries are ahead of the U.S. in terms of having young females at the forefront in some big companies, says Paul Doherty, CEO of the digit group, and one of the industry's most well-traveled tech experts. “It starts to get interesting when you have thought leadership coming out of 20-something females,” he adds with a smile.

     Bridgit's Brodie

     Bridgit's Brodie

The female founders of Bridgit, which makes a relatively simple but very popular punch list app, agree.  Co-founder Mallorie Brodie says, “Things are changing quickly. It is now the younger generation that is coined with having the entrepreneurial bug, and we’re seeing many companies being founded by people in their 20s and 30s. This new ‘risky’ behavior will undoubtedly lead to more women, and men, entering spaces where they may feel a bit out of their element – due to experience, imbalance of female/male representation, etc.  With this, we are sure to see more women entering industries such as construction and tech where they may have previously been underrepresented.”

        AGC CIO Francis

        AGC CIO Francis

From her Arlington VA perch in the national headquarters of the Associated General Contractors of America, CIO Charlotte Fara Francis says that she is seeing “a significant uptick” of females going into the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) arenas. To keep that trend going, Francis, who next year will join the board of the D.C. chapter of the Society of Information Management, encourages young women to “stand up and speak up,” to get more involved in industry trade groups, to take on speaking engagements, write articles, etc., all of which may help to open doors, not only for themselves, but for other women, as well. “We have to have unshakeable confidence that we can do it,” she says, even if we’re afraid. “We all have it in us; we just have to stand up and do it.”

Doherty observes that women and youth have two things in common in our industry.  As relative newcomers to leadership roles, they are innovators and doers because “they don’t know that they’re not supposed to do this, he says. They’re innovative because nobody told them not to be.”

For more, go to: Beyond dolls, STEM toys may draw more girls

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